Since we started homeschooling last September (or, more accurately, since we declined to send our daughter to primary school – because otherwise what were we doing for the first five years of her life?), this is one of the most common questions I have been asked by non-homeschoolers:
‘But what do you do with them all day?’
(Along with, ‘What curriculum do you use?’ and ‘How is homeschooling going?’)
It’s a question that has typically sent me diving for cover, because I really struggle to articulate what we actually do all day every day, and I feel vulnerable, exposed, and judged when people ask it.
Our days and weeks seem to go by so fast – so fast – that I haven’t had a moment to think about what we are actually doing, let alone a reasonable way of articulating it to others who aren’t even homeschoolers themselves. It’s not as if we struggle to fill our time! The exact opposite, in fact. But putting a finger on some concrete things that I could talk about with others – not so easy.
So let me tell you what a blessing it was to review my scribbled notebook of the last four months, and see all the many different things that we’ve been doing, all day, every day.
What do I do with them all day?
Reading aloud (me), reading aloud (her), writing, reading the Bible, going on nature walks, gardening, moving house, cleaning up the new house, exploring our new area, decorating, playing number games, visiting the library countless times, maths time with papa, learning to help with chores (cleaning, laundry), baking cakes and bread, watching and listening to and reading about The Nutcracker, listening to Beethoven symphonies, reading poetry, painting, going to the theatre, sewing, finger knitting, building flat-pack furniture, making Christmas gifts, playing board games, memorising Scripture, swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, ballet classes, book club, listening to science podcasts, making things, scootering, playing at the playground, flying kites, playing Lego, making origami…
What we do all day is not rocket science. It is simple family life, done together, done with (we hope) ever-increasing intentionality, with each of us learning at our own pace and digging into the world and the Word together. (And honestly, I think I am learning more than they are!) For us, it’s more about contemplation than knowledge. It’s about delight: in a story, in God’s creation, in number patterns, in working with our hands.
So, when you ask me what curriculum I follow, if you mean what topics are we covering, I will shrug my shoulders because we are focusing on learning skills rather than information.
When you ask me how homeschooling is going, if you mean how I am testing my children’s progress and attainment, I will tell you I’m not.
And when you ask me what we do all day every day, I will smile and say there are too many things to mention.